Dawn of the Dead (2004)

This time last year, I took a chance on George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, and in the summer I believed the hype and watched Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead. I must have a hunk of moth DNA in me, because I was drawn by the good review flames of Snyder’s original zombie remake, Dawn of the Dead, an adaptation of Romero’s original script for his… Dawn of the Dead.

Ana, a nurse, wakes up to the start of a zombie apocalypse, and manages to escape her zombified partner and the chaos on her local estate. She hooks up with a police officer, Rhodes, and three other survivors, and they manage to get to a local shopping mall. More people arrive, but so do the zombies, until the mall is surrounded by tens of thousands of the undead. In trying to help a nearby friend, they realise they can’t just stay where they are and wait to die, so they concoct a plan to escape.

Why did Snyder do it? (For the money.) Why did Romero let him? (He didn’t own the rights, and the rights-holder wanted the money.) And why did I choose to watch it? (I’m saying genetic weakness.) It’s a stylish, pacey rehash of Romero’s vision, with all social commentary taken out—an action film, and a decent one. Sarah Polley, giving a strong central performance as Ana, is easily the best thing about the film, especially in the excellent opening sequence where she goes about her evening, casually missing the news reports and emergency messages, until the next morning the zombies are literally at her bedroom door. If only Snyder’s Army of the Dead had a fraction of this average film’s charm.